A jewellery shop robber was tackled to the ground by police after being hit by an SUV while fleeing.
CCTV footage of the “blatant and audacious” raid - carried out in front of passers-by - was played to Liverpool Crown Court on Friday, May 6, after the only gang member caught appeared for sentencing. Steven Mallon’s five accomplices leaped onto two motorcycles when police rushed to the scene, Rebecca's Jewellery Shop in Southport, taking the other bike out of action.
Mallon was tackled to the ground and arrested when he tried to flee on foot and was knocked over by a small SUV. Charlotte Atherton, prosecuting, told the court the raid was carefully pre-planned and the gang was equipped with an angle grinder, axe, hammer and crowbar.
She said the "clearly organised" burglary happened just after 9pm on Monday, March 21 this year. Three of the men, all in black and wearing helmets, waited on the motorbikes while the others, including Mallon, were involved in breaking in.
One of them used an angle grinder, from which large showers of sparks were seen, to cut through the metal shutter and then a grille inside the shop. Ms Atherton said the CCTV footage showed "members of the public watching what must have been a very disturbing scene unfolding".
One of them rang the police and a nearby patrol was there within minutes and disturbed the offenders. Ms Atherton told the court: "The police car pinned one of the motor cycles to a post in a low impact collision and the five men escaped on the remaining two motor cycles."
Mallon was still inside the shop and was unable to catch up with his companions before running off on foot. Ms Atherton said: "He ran across nearby road pursued by police and was ultimately struck by a small SUV type vehicle which caused him to fall to the ground.
"The SUV drove away and he got back to his feet and tried to make off but was tackled to the ground by one of the officers. His motorcycle helmet came off and he was wearing a balaclava."
Ms Atherton said the footage showed he had been rummaging in a bag belonging to the gang before following two of them through the hole they had made into the shop. When he was arrested two jewellery boxes fell to the ground.
The court was told that the owner of the family business, Adrie Van Strang, put the value of the stolen jewellery at £80,000 but no documentation had been produced to confirm the figures. Ms Atherton said that the gang had targeted the shop because they anticipated “a significant haul with significant value.”
She said that Mr Sprang has been left badly financially and emotionally affected and has had to be medicated for anxiety. One of the motorcycles was traced and found to have been stolen in September last year but no other property has been recovered apart from the two boxes which fell from Mallon and a second-hand Rolex watch found near the shop.
Mallon, 43, of Briarwood Road, Aigburth, has four previous convictions including a 56 month term for possessing ecstasy with intent to supply. At the time of his latest offence he was the subject of a community order imposed for two criminal damage involving defecating in a police van and police cell.
Jailing him for two years eight months Judge David Swinnerton said that when he was arrested his clothing was found to be bound at the ankles and wrists with gaffer tape to limit DNA evidence. He said that while he did not know precisely what was taken and they had been disturbed, “the only sensible inference is that you intended as group to get a substantial haul.”
Judge Swinnerton continued: "You said it was not you that did the planning and I accept that, nonetheless you were happy to join the team carrying out this planned and organised burglary. You happily joined in no doubt for financial gain."
Keith Sutton, defending, said Mallon "bitterly regrets his involvement." Before the offence he had had his medication for anxiety reduced as he could not function properly and “this had clearly affected his judgement.”
Mr Sutton added the defendant was “not seeking to excuse his conduct.” He had accommodation problems and was concerned about his children but now knows he set about trying to solve his problems “in the worst possible way and set his son an appalling example.”